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article details
Author Various
Categories Integra Engine/Power
Create Date January 17, 2002 02:23
Last Update April 06, 2002 11:48
Timing Adjustments
From: Shawn Church
I have a tip for you (and other 3rd gen owners) on more performance. Advance your timing! This is an obvious modification, but one many people don't do because they don't have timing lights. A timing light is nice (people can email me if they want detailed instructions from the repair manual), but you don't need it.

Timing is advanced by rotating the distributor. The distributor is held in place by 3 bolts. You will need a socket and extension for the lower two, and a box end wrench for the top one (can't get a socket on there). Do this while the engine still retains a little heat from driving as it will make it easier to loosen the bolts. Wait a while though or you'll get burned. O.k., you'll note that there is a mark on the top bracket that connects the distributor to the block. If there isn't one, make on. This is your reference so you know what the original timing is. Get a fine tip marker and make several similar marks along the bracket (closely spaced) on the left side of the original one (looking from the passenger side). Now loosen up the distributor and rotate it counterclockwise to the first mark. Tighten it up, warm up the engine and go drive it up a grade in as high a gear as possible without lugging. Turn the air on too. If it pings, and you will hear it, you've go too much advance. The knock sensor will pull back the timing, but you will still pick up a bit of ping. If it didn't ping, go back and rotate it another mark and so on till you get ping, then back it off one mark. By testing it at full load, you can ensure that at no other time will you have to worry about the engine pinging.

Note that if you do this in winter, you may need to adjust it again in the summer. I did mine on a 90 degree day so I'm not worried. I gained 2 mpg and better low RPM power. 5th pulls a lot nicer on the freeway. I advanced mine about half of the additional adjustment between the original mark and max advance. Tim Kelley advanced his all the way for max power on the dyno. BTW, by advancing your timing, you're doing half of what an aftermarket chip will do, for free!

Okay, for those of you thinking: "Wait a minute, what about the knock sensor and the ability of the stock computer to retard timing?" After further discussion with Shawn, we think that the '94+ Integras uses the distributor timing as a base. The computer then works off of this base timing, adjusting the curve of the timing depending on load conditions. Henry advanced his timing and he saw very noticeable improvements with his modified GS-R. Blipping the throttle on heal-toe downshifts was faster with the engine revving to the desired speed much faster. We both advanced it to halfway of the maximum amount of timing. You probably don't want to go much further than this because advancing the timing will cause you problems if you don't run super unleaded. Be careful and don't go overboard with it.

From: Adam Glass
Advancing your timing too far can lead to nice round holes in your pistons and/or blown head gaskets. And you (and your knock sensor) won't necessarily hear the increased pressure and temperatures if the timing is just a little too far advanced. I'm not saying that advancing timing WILL cause problems, but I'd caution people to think twice about advancing it past max spec. The spec is something like x degrees BTDC +/- y degrees -- in other words, be very careful about advancing it past x+y degrees BTDC.
These are wise words of caution from Adam. After some testing we did, we actually found that the good timing advance point was just a little over +2 advanced which is on the spec: 16 +/- 2 BTDC at 750 +/- 50 rpm with all electrical systems off and shift lever in neutral.

From: Shawn Church After going out and checking the distributor, I've advanced mine about 6mm past the factory reference mark. I went as far as 12mm and got ping. I was running maybe 7 or 8, but reduced it because I was doing some dyno runs on the car. Tuan actually used a timing light on his, so maybe he can tell you how far 2 degrees is. Of course, this will vary from car to car. Another owner has advanced his as far as it will go (mechanically), but his car is heavily modified.
For reference, ping will occur under heavy load and sound like a little tapping, rattling or pinging from under the hood. I find it easy to hear when the windows are closed to tone down the tire and wind noise. On your car, you shouldn't hear more than a ping or two at a time as the computer will pull back your timing. Theoretically, I guess you could advance your timing all the way and let the computer keep you at the bleeding edge. However, since we don't know how much the computer retards timing, you might actually be running less advance that way. Example: advance timing 3 degrees, no ping. Advance 4 degrees, get ping, computer pulls back timing 2 degrees, net 2 degrees advance.
Be sure to read the latest update on the page as well. 18 degrees is about as far as you want to go (I'm still not sure how Tim Kelley went to full mechanical advance).
If it's that cold, you should definitely be able to advance quite a bit. I've really been wanting to try some race gas (105-110 octane) with full advance on a cold night, then again, who knows what the side effects might be :-).

From: LKY 12/11/95
when I advance my ignition timing using a timing gun, I found that the factory set the ignition timing below the red mark (red mark = 16 BTDC). I also found the same thing on my friend's GSR. I think you should advance your timing at least to the red mark. I'm sure you can feel that the engine is more easy to rev up.

From: Shawn Church
Xmas morning the first thing I did was go warm up my car and check the timing. Turns out I had it set at about 16.5 for the dyno run. I set it back to the original mark from the factory and it read about 14.5-15 BTDC - actually below the median spec! I then checked it at the mark where I got pinging, about 18.5 to 19 - no wonder! I then proceeded to set it to 18 on the nose and its been wonderful ever since, no pinging, free revving, etc.

From: Gary Shrieves 01/12/96
Not to beat the issue to death, but since an Acura lacks timing graduations like that of most American cars, make your own template! Measure the diameter of your crankshaft pulley with a ruler. On a piece of paper, use a compass to draw a circle of that diameter. Mark a line on the top of the circle. This is 0 or 16 deg, either way. Then, take a protractor and measure off the degrees increasing in a counterclockwise direction (this will be advanced). Now you will have an exact template in scale of timing marks.

Additionally, when adjusting the timing, don't forget to put a jumper in the socket under the passenger side dash! If not, it will be inaccurate.

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